Shadow Complex Remastered Review

Shadow Complex Remastered propels lost hiker Jason Fleming into the hollows of government conspiracy, dark political motives, and military upheaval. When Jason and his girlfriend Claire accidentally stumble upon a rogue paramilitary group called The Restoration, it soon becomes clear that the faction’s intent is to set in motion a chain of events that will cause America to collapse into a new civil war. Along the way, Jason acquires many high-tech “toys” and eventually becomes a super-powered engine of destruction.

Shadow Complex was first released on the 360 as an Xbox Arcade game back in 2009 – this Remastered version has the potential to make this classic available to a whole new audience.

Set in the world of Orson Scott Card’s Empire novel, Shadow Complex is the story of Jason and his girlfriend, Claire. On a trip in the mountains they accidentally discover a secret underground base (I hate it when that happens) run by an organisation calling itself the Progressive Restoration. Claire – being the very epitome of a video game girlfriend – gets herself captured and it’s up to Jason to rescue her.

In truth, we didn’t really feel connected to the story, but the brilliant game mechanics, exploration and pathfinding meant that we didn’t care that we didn’t really care about Claire. In complete honesty, I had never heard of this game until it came to this review; I normally get bored of side scrolling platformers quite quickly but I found this one rather fun and challenging, leaving me wanting more.

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If you love Metroidvania style games then you should enjoy this. Even though it’s a side scrolling action adventure, Shadow Complex provides plenty of opportunity to retrace your steps, revisiting different areas of the sprawling map and open doors that were previously impassable. In true Super Metroid style, progress through the game is gated based on the tools you have at your disposal. As you level up and progress through the story, you unlock different weapons (power ups) which can destroy otherwise impassable doors and open up new areas to explore. Of course, more powerful weapons also deal more damage to the enemies and large bosses you encounter along the way.

Intriguingly – and in complete keeping with the moody atmosphere of the game, destructible doors only reveal themselves when you shine your flashlight over them, their colour revealing just what it will take to put them out of commission.

  • Yellow – can be destroyed with normal bullets
  • Green – Destroyed by frag grenades
  • Purple – Destroyed by expanding foam (the foam can also freeze wall-climbing enemies for a short duration, allowing you to climb on top of them to get to hard to reach ledges, a neat mechanic.)
  • Red – Destroyed by missiles

As you progress through the story you will level up, increasing your character’s main attributes (health, accuracy, damage etc). This is no complex RPG with multiple skill trees – here a much simpler design is followed, your character leveling up all attributes equally. As you explore you’ll open doors, and find secrets like gold bars, extra slots for weapons and grenades, extra health etc. Find the power suit – with all the upgrades – and you’ll gain the ability to scuba, run really fast, bash through doors and obstacles (that glow BLUE under flashlight) and become the ultimate fighting machine.

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And you’ll need those upgrades. A veritable army of Restoration soldiers are out to stop you, heavily armed and bent on your destruction. Some of them in tanks. Use the right analogue stick to aim at your foes and shoot them down – precision headshots dealing more damage. You can use the environment to your advantage too – electrical cables, explodable canisters and even explodable robots can all be brought in to play. And – true to the game’s theme – you can hide in the shadows until your foe approaches and use a number of lethal melee and takedown moves.

Occasionally the game dips into a repetitive cycle, but the lure of exploration, levelling up and seeing that completion score rise towards 100 keeps you coming back for more. In fact, Shadow Complex Remastered is replete with touches that will bring you back time and again, retracing your steps in the search for secrets and scores. A full set of leaderboards lets you compare your progress against that of your friends or the best in the world, whilst every play through nets you an assessment of your performance. You’ll want to replay just to do better.

Developer ChAIR presents Shadow Complex Remastered beautifully, the obvious graphical enhancements from the original serving to enhance the original’s fresh twist on classic side-scrolling design. This remaster also features all the content from the original game, all-new dynamic melee take-downs, and additional Achievements and Master Challenges. You’ll enjoy more than 10 hours of exploration and fast-paced combat, and rediscover – or experience for the first time (as I did) – one of the true classic Xbox Live Arcade titles.

Shadow Complex Remastered is available now from the Xbox Store for £11.99.

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